Lights out @ the statehouse

The members of the Iowa General Assembly are, um, strolling toward adjournment of their 2010 session.  I’ve been covering the legislature since the 1985 session. In the late ’80s I was around for a last weekend of the legislative session that was quite memorable.  It involved a complete blackout in the statehouse caused by a car wreck.  It was the dead of night, as they say, and lawmakers walked around the capitol using flashlights and candles to light their way.  

I suspect the 2010 legislative session won’t end Friday and I’ll be at work at the statehouse on Saturday.  I’m bringing a flashlight.  See below for the explanation:

DES MOINES — This Saturday the Iowa State Capitol will take part in a global movement to raise awareness about climate change by turning off the lights for one hour.

“Earth Hour” is an awareness movement started by the World Wildlife Federation in 2008. On March 27 at 8:30 p.m. local time, WWF is encouraging individuals and institutions everywhere to turn off their lights for one hour. Last year there were more than 80 million participants in the U.S. alone.

For the second time, the Iowa Capitol will be joining international icons such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Sydney’s Opera House, the Great Pyramids of Gaza and New York’s Empire State Building in switching off non-essential lighting. Security lighting and lighting required by the Federal Aviation Administration will remain on at the Capitol during this time.

“State government has been working to find ways to reduce our energy consumption, but those changes aren’t always visible to the public,” said Capitol Complex Energy Manager Jennifer Moehlmann. “By participating in this project we can, in a very visible way, show our support, and hopefully also raise awareness on the issue of climate change among Iowans.”

Governor Chet Culver encouraged Iowa citizens and business to consider their impact on the environment, and to consider turning off their lights for an hour as well.

“All Iowans can take simple steps to use less energy, and as a result, reduce our carbon footprint,” said Governor Culver. “I encourage citizens to visit the ‘Earth Hour’ website to find ways to use less energy. Taking part in this worldwide event is one way for all Iowans to show their commitment to our environment.”

For more information on Earth Hour, go to

The State Capitol will also be dimming its lights for Earth Day on April 22, 2010.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.